YOU DON’T SAY

  • Police in Chiba busted the operators of a dating website that had 2.7 million male users but only one female member.
  • Also, cops say the company employed “more than a dozen men pretending to be women.”
  • It was reported that visitors are flocking to the Kyoto Prefectural Botanical Garden because of an orchid whose flower resembles the face of a monkey.
  • Social workers in areas hit by the March 11 disaster say they’re concerned about solitary evacuees who are turning to alcohol to deal with their problems.

THE FRIENDLY SKIES

  • Officials at ANA hope to attract more customers in North America by festooning their planes with Star Wars-themed livery.
  • At least five of Japan’s 11 domestic airlines no longer employ mechanics to carry out pre-takeoff inspections, instead relying on the plane’s captain to do the work alone.
  • The folks at JAXA have given a new name to asteroid 1999 JU3, which is the destination of the Hayabusa 2 space probe. The celestial rock is now called “Ryugu”—the name of an undersea palace in the Momotaro legend.

STATS

  • 12: Minimum number of elementary and junior high school students in Osaka who have suffered broken bones while forming human pyramids during the past year
  • 1.54 million: Units of a drug for treating athlete’s foot that Japanese pharmaceutical companies are recalling due to “a quality management flaw”
  • $810 million: Amount of aid pledged by the Japanese government this year to help refugees and internally displaced persons in Syria and Iraq—that’s triple the amount from 2014

MILESTONES

  • Good news for hay fever sufferers: authorities at the Japan Weather Association are predicting that pollen levels around the country next spring will be “low” or “relatively low.”
  • Members of a Japan Coast Guard team specializing in lifesaving activities—dubbed “the Sea Monkeys”—are celebrating their 40th year of operations.
  • The team has been deployed 4,700 times and is credited with saving the lives of about 2,500 people.
  • Officials at the education ministry may scrap an advisory issued in 1969 that discourages high school students from participating in political activities.
  • Rakugo performer Enzo Tachibana, one of the “Four Princes” of the comedic storytelling form in the postwar era, died in a hospital in Tokyo. He was 81.

HERE AND THERE

  • Officials with Egypt’s antiquities ministry say they’ll use Japanese scanning technology to “see through pyramids and analyze their inside structures.”
  • Two former justice ministers were among the 200 people who took part in a rally last month in Tokyo calling for the abolition of the death penalty.
  • Red-faced administrators at the Nuclear Regulation Authority admitted that they accidentally leaked 3,800 pages of training materials for new employees.
  • The NPA says a record-high 796 minors were the victims of “sex crimes and other offenses” via social networking systems last year.

YAWN

  • A land ministry panel is studying ways to standardize methods of designating bicycle lanes “by using pictograms and other methods.”
  • Eighty-year-old artist Kiyoto Maruyama, who has dedicated his career to painting murals in public bathhouses, will take part in a symposium in Tokyo to “pass down his skills to younger generations.”
  • The genre is certainly in danger of dying out: in 1964, there were 23,016 public baths nationwide, but by 2013 that number had dropped to 4,542.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Princess Mako Mulls Visit to C. America” (via The Japan News)

Compiled from reports by AP, Japan Today, The Japan Times, Jiji, The Tokyo Reporter, The Mainichi, The Japan News, AFP, Reuters, and Kyodo